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What is the difference between a pet food that uses the term “beef”; versus the phrase “with beef” on the pet food label?


  • The pet food or product name is a description of the food and is subject to the AAFCO regulations about the composition of ingredients.1
  • Percentage rules:
    • If a product name contains:
      • “Beef”: Beef ingredients must make up ³ 95% of the total weight of all ingredients. When water used for processing is excluded, beef cannot be less than 70% of the total product weight. This rule applies to any ingredient derived from mammals, poultry, or fish.1
      • “Beef” with a descriptor such as “platter”, “entrée”, “dinner”, “formula”, or “recipe”: Beef ingredient(s) must be ³25% of the total weight of the ingredients. When water used in processing is excluded, beef cannot be less than 10% of the total product weight.1
      • With Beef”: Beef ingredient(s) must be at least 3% of the total weight of the product excluding water used for processing.1
      • “Beef flavor”: There is no minimum percentage for beef as an ingredient.1  Thus, an ingredient can be less than 1% of the total product and still be a part of the product name.

More supporting facts:

  • Percentage rules also pertain to product names and moisture content of foods. For the United States:
    • Maximum moisture content in all pet foods should not exceed 78%. However, pet foods can have a moisture content greater than 78% if they are labeled as “gravy”, “stew”, “in broth”, or “in juice”.2
  • By law, the pet food label must contain the manufacturer’s name, brand name, product name, species for which the food is intended (cat or dog), net weight display, guaranteed analysis, ingredient statement, feeding directions, AAFCO nutritional adequacy statement, and name and address of manufacturer or distributor.1
The Science Behind our Recommendations
1. Association of American Feed Control Officials. 2011 Official Publication. Association of American Feed Control Officials, Inc. 2011: 133-135. 2. Roudebush P, Dzanis DA, Debraekeleer J, Watson H. Pet Food Labels. In: Hand MS, Thatcher CD, Remillard RL, Roudebush P, Novotny BJ, eds. Small Animal Clinical Nutrition 5th ed. Topeka, KS: Mark Morris Institute; 2010: 195.